back to the future day
sure i'm a fan of the back to the future franchise but what i think is the reason there is such fascination with today, 10/21/2015, is the date's specificity. when the second film was released [today is the date marty mcfly returns to the future] we didn't know what the 21st century would be like. more of the same old 20th century? what sort of technology would we have. jet packs and flying cars?
well, predicting the future via the movies made in the present day is a cod's game. sure it's fun to look back at older films and see if they got the future, er i mean the present, correct. they are bound not to. because we can only see the world thru the scrim of our present day.
yes, there are visionaries who can indeed lead us into the future. i remember back in the early '90s i read an article where the author predicted we would soon be reading books, newspapers, and magazines via a device that will also stream audio and visual. i'm a lover of print so i brought the article to my poetry professor and asked him what he thought of this prediction. he said, sounds like wishful thinking.
20 plus years later the tablet and the smart phone proves that visionary was spot on. movies are a different sort. science fiction take science and extrapolates it into stories. often the best sci fi shows us the world as we live in it today with our hopes, fears, nightmares and ecstasies.
i was watching the brilliant dystopian film by alphonso cuaron, children of men , over the weekend. the movie starts on the date november 16, 2027, 18 years after the last baby was born. the world has gone to shit. these are the final years of human kind. the technology in this film is grubby, broken. no smart phones or self-driving cars but the cars did have sensors to warn about collisions along with windshield displays for speed and fuel and so on. i just saw a car commercial advertising just those things. but this movie is about our fears today. terrorism, mass surveillance, a hopeless sensation that the world is winding down.
and then there is blade runner , also set in november, in 2019. tho there are flying cars in this film filmmaker ridley scott and his designers did something brilliant. they made the future look like the 1940s. therefore this movie looks timeless and the technology is again just grubby enough that we don't even notice it. this film is an investigation to a question that is as old as human kind, what makes you you, and how much time have we got to live.
but then so why do we want to know the future? part of it is simply fun. some of the need to know stems from fear of the unknown. will the future be horrible, or will it be shiny hope? we certainly are in pessimistic times. i asked anna last night why she thinks there are no protest songs. if young people worry about government, and after 14 years of non-stop war, and with an economy that seems to exclude them, and with the weight of a changing, volatile climate, how come the young are not creating protest music. she answered, you protest when you have hope, and perhaps we have become a country without hope.
thus when we try to predict the future we almost always get it wrong. but sometimes we get it right. when we don't we can always go back and fact-check our films. because when you want to go back to future you need to go to the movies.